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Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Easter in Napa Valley

This Easter, the husband's family decided to do a family lunch up in Napa.  I always love an excuse to go exploring up there, so I woke up early and excited.  It was a cold and rainy day, which was not a bad thing, because we are in the midst of a serious drought.  This is what low-laying clouds on a rainy day look like over the vineyards.

We have a tradition of meeting up at Dean and Deluca's before we eat, to do a little gourmet shopping.

Of course, the first place I stopped was the pastry counter.  I will tell you right now, doing this on an empty stomach is a very bad idea.  

Everything looked so pretty and so yummy.  I don't get up here very often, so I figured I needed to try out a bunch of things at once to see what I liked.

Our next stop was the cheese counter.  I don't think one can ever have too much cheese in their fridge. We left with a cheddar and a brie.

I was really into these pig bowls (and I kind of regret not leaving with one).  They are so stinking cute, and totally Napa style.  I just wasn't really sure where I would put one.  

There were lots of enticing displays for other things I didn't need, like theses beautiful copper pots.

And these colorful glass bottles.

I haven't ever tried Blanton's Kentucky bourbon, but this was one of the prettiest bottles I have ever seen.  This may be another item I regret not purchasing, but one I am sure I can find closer to home.  

This display of Dickel whiskey was complete with a certificate of authenticity and a barrel.

Our next stop was Cindy's Backstreet Kitchen, which is owned by renowned chef Cindy Pawlcyn.

The menu had so many tasty offerings that it was hard to narrow it down to one entree.

I went with the lobster cobbster (Cindy's take on a Cobb salad) and it was delicious (and photographed nicely as well).

Restaurant ambiance

By the time the dessert menu came, I had already looked through pictures on Yelp, and I knew exactly what I wanted.

This work of art is called the Campfire Pie, and made of toasted marshmallow, fudgy chocolate, almond ding, and and Oreo crust.  It was pure perfection.

We also tried the lemon buttermilk souffle cake, which was also really good (but not quite as spectacular to photograph).

When we got home, I took a photo of our confections from Dean and Deluca so I could always remember their deliciousness.  I give especially high praise to the black and white cookie and the pistachio macaron.  

I hope everyone had a nice weekend, however you spent it.

For previous Easter in Napa, click here.

Monday, March 30, 2015

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up and My Spring Project

I chose The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up as my most recent audible.com pick.  It is that spring cleaning, I-want-to-reorganize-everything-I-own time of year, and I was game to try something new,.  At first I was skeptical, as I listened to Marie Kondo define her method of organizing your home.  It was a bit drastic.  This is not a room-by-room type of project.  This is balls out, take everything you own of a certain category, and dump it onto your floor in a particular order.  By the end of the book, I was excited to test it out.  So I went to Target and picked up a hard copy.  I needed to start flagging the important pages.

I admit, I am one of those people that has a closet full of clothing and nothing to wear.  The first step in this book is closet organization, so I figured I had nothing to lose.  I took every single item of clothing I had and dumped it onto my bed.  Since I had nothing to wear, I didn't think this would take very long.  I was wrong.  I was very wrong.

This is part of my pile on the bed.  It was a lot of stuff.  The rules are as follows: pick up every piece of clothing and decide if it brings you joy.  You must touch each item. When you wake up tomorrow, would you be excited to put it on?  No guilt from keeping gifts other people have bought for you.  No guilt in keeping items that still had the tags on them.  The book rationalizes why (and it worked for me).

When I was about halfway through, I was exhausted.  Why did I own this much crap?  Would I be happier wearing a few things that I love a lot, rather than a lot of things that I was only wearing because they were clean and in my closet?  

I started this project on Saturday, and by Sunday night, I had completed maybe 75%.  I had five trash bags ready for donation, and one trash bag full of things that were garbage.  I still needed to go through my purses and random bags that hang out on the shelves of my closet.

I am hoping that I can keep trying to go through my belongings throughout the week and purge more items that do not suit me.  As I have been doing this exercise, I have been keeping a list of items I need to repurchase (either because the ones I have been hanging on to are worn out or just don't spark any kind of joy in me).  After I complete this exercise, I need to move on to cleaning out my books.  I hope I can get there soon.  It will definitely be easier to purge items that are mine alone, and do not need my husband to also go through.

This book is definitely worth picking up if you are at all interested in a major spring cleaning purge. It offers some new ideas and new ways of looking at items that are not working for the life that you have.  Five enthusiastic stars from me.  Now that I have some momentum going, I really want to keep it up.  I would love to only be surrounded with things that are loved or are in some way useful.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Confessions of a Stationery Hoarder

The notebooks in the picture above are really cute, huh?  I was digging through the stationery section at TJ Maxx last summer when I found them.  I maybe paid $6 for the three of them and was really excited to bring these back to my office to be used (my office is not a very formal place).  Only it is close to a year later, and they all remain untouched    

I've tried to use them many times, but I can't bring myself to mark up the pristine pages.  I end up putting a smaller white notepad inside of the book and writing on that.  I realize how silly this sounds, and that they are meant to be written in.  I can't seem to just jot down my deliverables from the latest meeting I attended.  I feel like I am waiting for something magnificent to write on the first page, but the words never come.  

I would love to say that I didn't have other kinds of stationery sitting in a desk drawer, waiting to be used.  Don't even get me started on the wonder that is the Target Dollar Spot.  Cutest Post-its and notepads ever (and they are each a dollar).  I may need some kind of intervention here.  

Do you have something that you collect and like so much, you can't bring yourself to use it?

Thursday, March 19, 2015

All of the Fringy Things

I have loved all things fringe since I was a child.  I am so happy to see it in stores as a trend for spring.  I am definitely going to pick up a pair of fringe sandals first, but honestly, I don't see myself stopping there.  Not with all of the cute bags and shorts and dresses that are out now.  I especially love those Valentino fringe boots below, but they may be slightly out of my price range this year.  And by slightly I mean way the heck out of.  Such is life.

What trend are you looking forward to trying out this spring?

All The Fringy Things

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

I Learned How To Make Homemade Irish Cream

Hello and happy St. Patrick's Day!  I have been trying to eat (mostly) healthy things lately, but I cannot let a chance to make homemade Irish Cream pass!  Turns out that it only takes six ingredients to make this concoction for yourself at home.  I highly recommend using Tillamore DEW Irish Whiskey. It has a mellow flavor, which is absolutely delicious.  I halved the recipe shown here, but added additional chocolate syrup to taste.  I had a bottle of Baileys on hand, and compared the two until I had a slightly less-cloying version.  In this homemade form, you can really taste both the chocolate and the coffee.

After mixing the ingredients together
Priming the ingredients for the perfect St. Paddy's Day cocktail.
So now you have your homemade Irish Cream and you are wondering what to do with it.  Well, make an Irish Car Bomb if you are so inclined. You will also need Guinness and Jameson Irish Whiskey for this.  Bonus: they are so much fun to make.

An Irish Car Bomb in action.
I hope you have a fun St. Patrick's Day, however you are celebrating. If you have any special food/drinks you like to make, I would love to hear about it in the comments below.

Monday, March 16, 2015

A Few Pictures From My Weekend

The Bay Area had unseasonably warm weather this weekend, so we decided to take a drive down to San Jose.  It is about an hour away from our house, so we grabbed some lunch while we were there.  I wore shorts and sandals (which is only considered bragging if you live in a place still covered in snow).  Hello, spring!

We stopped off at Konjoe, our current favorite burger joint, located in San Pedro Market Square.  They have fantastic Asian-inspired burgers, hand-cut fries, and a different flavor of lemonade every time we go.  This time it was guava. They also make their own aiolli and ketchup, and have special buns made that compliment the taste of the burgers.  I am getting hungry just writing about it.

Our next stop was our favorite fish store.  My husband is really into raising colorful shrimp.  While he was picking a few out, I was looking at all of the beautiful tanks.

I had been wanting an electric blue ram for my tank for a long time.  I think they are one of the prettiest freshwater fish there is.  It was hard to pick just one.  

I finally finished my #100HappyDays album for 2014.  I really enjoyed documenting this so much that I think I am going to do this all over again in 2015.  It really made me think about all of the good in my life, even on the days when everything seems to be going wrong.

I hope you had a nice weekend too!
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